By Brandon N.
For my birthday my wife got me a membership to the local range. It has been fantastic. Not only do I get a free lane but taking a buddy with me only costs an extra $4. I’ve been using the opportunity to bring friends and family with me that have never been and would never go on their own. Even though my wife was willing to get me the membership she wasn’t really thrilled about the idea of going with me (she told me it was nothing personal). She grew up in a house where firearms ensured certain death. Just having one locked up in a safe in the house sent her mother through the roof. These are scary, scary things . . .
The fact that I bought one of those frightening black AR machine gun-looking things didn’t help my case. Now, my wife is thoroughly addicted and instead of questioning my purchases has started her own little collection. My friends were the same way. I live in California so firearms are taboo in general. Single-shot shotguns are all you need if you even need that.
One trip to the range, though, and they are hooked. My wife wants to take her sister and so we sat down and talked about a couple of the things I did right and wrong that helped her feel more comfortable and I thought I would right them down.
Things to do before going to the range: (The range is loud and intense. Don’t wait until you get to the range to start talking about firearms.)
- Talk about the 4 rules and then nicely go over them again. Don’t beat them over the head with it. They are already afraid of the gun. There is no need to explain how they’re dangerous. Explain what they can do to make sure they aren’t as dangerous.
- Show them how to inspect the firearm to ensure it is unloaded. Practice loading, unloading, and checking to ensure it is clear. Firearms can be scary for people unfamiliar with them. The more you can ease the tension before the range, the more fun they will have when they get there.
- Teach them how to aim with the gun you are going to take to the range at home and unloaded. Aiming seemed like common sense to me, but I grew up with GI Joe’s and cap guns. My wife, not so much.
- Pack extra gear. Your buddy may not have eye and ear protection or just may plumb forget. I always keep a 50 pack of soft foam earplugs in my bag and bring extra glasses and ear muffs. Don’t make them go shopping. If you can afford ammo you can afford a pair of earplugs.
- Schedule around them. My wife wanted to make a day of it and go out to dinner afterward. My buddy is busy and only had time to go after work. You’re doing this with them in mind. Give them some control.
At the range:
- Bring something in a small caliber. Yes, I laugh at the YouTube video of the person shooting a huge gun when they don’t know what they are doing, but you actually want this person to come back. Start with a .22 and let them work up to that Smith and Wesson 500.
- The first time they shoot, only put one round in the gun. I know some people are afraid they are going to drop or throw the gun as soon as it fires. This way they don’t have to worry. Also, I’ve seen people drop the gun with rounds in the chamber and this way you won’t have to worry either.
- Watch them carefully but don’t lean over them. You want to ensure they are being careful and they don’t want you to give them a gun and walk away. That doesn’t mean they want to feel you breathing on their neck while they try to aim.
- Don’t rush them. If that first shot takes a couple of minutes, so be it. Ten minutes for a ten round magazine, so what? Let them dictate the pace.
- Let them shoot. Sure take turns, but don’t make them watch you all afternoon. Hopefully they are getting excited about what they just did. Give them the opportunity to build off that.